UK and US guidelines on kids' physical activity levels need rethinking

Jun 30, 2008

UK and US guidelines on how much physical activity children need to boost their health and stave off obesity need to be revised, conclude researchers in a study published ahead of print in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

What's more, less than half of boys and only one in eight girls manage the recommended weekly amounts.

The researchers base their findings on the long term monitoring of 113 boys and 99 girls from 54 different schools, all of whom were 5 years old when the study started.

The children were part of the EarlyBird study, which is tracking the long term health of 307 children born between 1995 and 1996.

The children's weekly physical activity levels were measured using a tiny device worn around the waist and designed for the purpose.

And changes in weight and predictive health indicators, such as insulin resistance, blood fat and cholesterol levels, and blood pressure were measured annually between the ages of 5 and 8.

Taken together, these health indicators reflect the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Both the UK and US guidelines recommend that children are moderately physically active for at least an hour every day, in a bid to stave off obesity and its attendant health risks. And they measure body mass index (weight) to monitor impact

The results showed that there was a wide range of physical activity among children, some spending as little as 10 minutes a day at the recommended intensity while others were spending over 90 minutes a day.

Around 42% of boys but only 11% of girls met the 60 minute guideline.

There was no difference in weight (BMI) change between those who did and did not meet the guidelines.

But both boys and girls who met the guidelines showed progressive improvement in their predictive health indicators, while those who did not showed a progressive deterioration.

The authors suggest that the measure used to gauge impact may simply be too crude, and that applying the same guideline to both sexes may not be appropriate.

Children who do more exercise clearly benefit, but we still have no idea how to encourage the 60% of boys and 90% of girls who do not meet the deadline to do more.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

Related Stories

Johns Hopkins study connects student vision with literacy

Jun 02, 2015

In the month after Alexander Dominguez joined Maygon Thompson's third-grade class at Charles Carroll Barrister Elementary School, he breezed through worksheets and quickly rose to be among the most studious members.

Wearable clip tells parents, coach about head impact

Sep 05, 2014

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a concussion is a type of injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Concussions ...

The global gender gap persists, says report

Mar 09, 2015

On March 9, the United Nations will convene to evaluate the global community's progress on gender equality in the 20 years since 189 countries adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The ...

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

18 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

18 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

19 hours ago

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

21 hours ago

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.